Around 3 Million UK Students Are Planning Their 2014 Gap Year Right Now!
So If You Are Seeking Gap Year Travel Advice & Inspiration . . . Read On
That’s right, an estimated 3 million+ young Brits just like you are preparing to take the plunge and jet off into the excitement of the unknown: different continents; different cultures – in search of fun, knowledge, education, thrills and most of all . . . massive personal fulfilment.
Gap Year Travel Advice
When seeking gap year travel advice there are a number of dedicated online sources you can turn to.
The main priority is that you should look to an established gap year travel specialist, rather than a generalist travel agency, as they will have their finger on the pulse when it comes to detailed knowledge of a particular destination or territory. Even better if the company owners have visited the destinations they feature on their websites.
Ultimately, your chosen gap year specialist will have many local contacts in the region(s) you want to visit, so your travel experience will be more authentic and valid than if you went with a “bog-standard” travel agency.
And don’t take the term “gap year” too literally. These days, taking a gap year volunteering program can mean spending anything from several weeks to several months away from home. “Snap Gaps” – mini-gap years designed to boost your CV – are all the rage just now.
Indeed, many students find that a well-designed itinerary means that they can cram oodles of unique experiences into a comparatively short space of time!
Whilst around 30% of gap year students will choose to travel alone, you may prefer to tag along with a friend or partner, particularly if this will be your first “long-haul” travel experience. Heading off with just your new boyfriend or girlfriend for company can seem like the ideal romantic scenario; however, unless you know someone well enough emotionally to be able to spend weeks on end in one-another’s company, some gap-goers may find they are better off having a long-term friend along for the ride instead.
Gap Year Travel Planner
Advanced planning is essential in order to make the most of every day you spend away and a gap year travel planner in the form of a notebook or notepad can prove useful when it comes to planning your itinerary. Or you could opt to use one of the many mind-mapping tools available online which will enable you to plan your trip in finite detail. XMind comes highly-recommended – what’s more it’s FREE!
Although when planning, be sure to factor in some extra time for unscheduled activities that may come your way and you will also need to allow yourself time to acclimatise and chill out in your new surroundings.
So then . . . where do you want to go on your gap year?
What do you want to do?
What will you want to see?
These three basic questions will form the “linchpin” for your travel itinerary. For clarity, it can be handy to plot out your proposed route on a map, so try Scribble Maps at http://scribblemaps.com. The basic service is free and you can draw out your map in as much detail as you wish, and share it with friends and via various social media platforms, as well as publish your “masterpiece” to your blog or website.
Gap Year Travel Essentials
We’re not suggesting for one second that you’ll leave for the airport minus your passport, unless of course you are a famous footballer, in which case it’s mandatory!
But what with all the excitement of your gap adventure drawing ever closer, it’s easy to overlook those gap year travel essentials that could make or break your trip. The guys over at Studential.com have put together a comprehensive list of all the things you’ll kick yourself later if you leave behind, as well as some sound advice on choosing a suitable backpack to carry it all in. Check out their latest info at: http://www.studential.com/gap-years/travelling/planning/travel-kit – and you might want to sign up for their newsletter while you’re about it.
You can also find a wealth of great up-to-the-minute advice on all aspects of gap year travel on the GOV.UK website at: https://www.gov.uk/gap-year-foreign-travel-advice
Gap Year Travel Store
So now . . . you know exactly what stuff you’ll need for your chosen gap adventure . . . but where to buy it?
Googling: “Gap Year Travel Store” (in inverted commas) will return you around 33,200 results at the time of writing this article, and you may be lucky enough to find a store close to home so you can try on all those essentials.
Comfy shoes and clothing are a must, as is finding a well-fitting – yet sturdy – backpack to accompany you throughout every stretch of your itinerary. And without being sexist, (or patronising), it’s a fact that women are built differently to men physically and have therefore differing needs when it comes to what they need to take travelling with them.
With this in mind, it’s worth seeking out a gap year travel store that caters for both sexes individually – particularly if those products are tried and tested by seasoned gap year travellers themselves.
Gap Year Travel Insurance
Gap Year travel insurance is an essential requirement for anyone booking gap year travel. The best advice is to shop around the online price-comparison sites like MoneySupermarket.com http://www.moneysupermarket.com/travel-insurance/gap-year/ or Martin Lewis’s acclaimed MoneySavingExpert.com http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/insurance/cheap-travel-insurance
As Martin Lewis rightly advises: “DON’T try to use standard policies if on a gap year / backpacking. Normal annual policies won’t do the job. These usually restrict you to 30 days per trip, meaning you have to return to the UK within that time limit.”
Before taking up any insurance quote, it is vital that you have your itinerary fully defined and that you will be covered for anything you plan to do whilst abroad.
For example, might you be planning to:
- Pop home in the middle of your gap year; say for a wedding or an important family birthday?
- Sign-up for unscheduled work or manual labour which might not be covered on a normal policy?
- Go jungle-trekking or take part in hazardous sports like white-water rafting not generally supported by your policy?
Carefully check through all the small-print on your gap year travel insurance policy, (particularly the exclusion clauses), and ensure that your policy is as flexible as you will need it to be. And do be sure to query anything you are not clear on, well in advance of your travelling date.
Gap Year Travel Forums
Of course, travel guides from specialist publishers like Lonely Planet and Time Out are great for checking out your shortlist of prospective destinations, but nothing beats first-hand experience.
There are around a dozen active online gap year travel forums dedicated to providing help and advice for gap year students. Two of the most prominent are GapYear.com and TheStudentRoom.co.uk, where you can sign-up for free and chat about all manner of topics, including travel!
There’s also a gap year travel site dedicated to helping people find like-minded companions to travel with; (ok, “dates” if you prefer!) As always when you are online, exercise a degree of caution in your communications and avoid readily sharing your personal details with “faceless strangers.”
Gap Year Travel – “the gift that keeps on giving . . .”
There’s little doubt that a gap year will change your life for the better however you decide to spend it and wherever in the world your journey takes you.
So whether this article finds you frantically saving for your very own gap adventure or snap gap, or whether you are lucky enough to have friends or family pitching in, gap year travel really is the gift that keeps on giving.
And here’s why . . .
Wherever your wanderlust takes you, you are guaranteed to develop strong interpersonal skills, practical abilities and character-enhancing attributes that will surely last you a lifetime.
It’s also highly likely that you will return home completely inspired and full of ideas about what you want to do next – not only about the kind of work you want to do, but about the way to want to live your life in general.
And don’t be the tinniest bit surprised if you find yourself sitting down one weekend, huddled over your laptop or iPad, planning out your next HUGE gap year adventure.